A walk on the wild flower side

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

With threatening skies, but a warm, humid atmosphere, I set off recently for a short but unexpectedly productive walk along the banks of the Tweed from Walkerburn.

The river was alive with the chattering of dozens of sand martins, which were nesting in holes in the sandy banks on the opposite side and flying back and forth with flies for their unseen broods.

Even the rugby pitch had its share of wildlife – several pied wagtails scurried about looking for insects in the short grass, a solitary heron rested near the goal posts and a row of martins sat on the topmost fence wire, having a breather.

The sun came out briefly as I walked along the path which follows the disused mill lade. Here, many species of wild flower bloomed in profusion and a flowering bramble attracted the attention of a single Red Admiral butterfly.

Leaving the path, I wandered over to the river where the old cauld used to be, attracted by a vivid blue flower which looked a bit out of place.

It was growing amongst the riverside stones and I recognised it immediately as Viper’s Bugloss, which is normally found on coastal dunes. Looking around, I noticed at least another half dozen big clumps of this most attractive plant and wondered how it had got there in the first place.

Wandering around the stony riverbank, I soon began to discover that a whole host of interesting plants had taken up residence here, no doubt having been seeded by the flooding river.

The usual suspects were there, such as Himalayan Balsam, Weld and Monkey Flower, as well as some most attractive varieties of poppy.

A particularly stunning clump of Marsh Woundwort grew where the old sluice would have been for the mill lade, but the most interesting discovery for me was that of a large colony of a beautiful little plant called Pale Toadflax.

I had never come across it before and although it was past its best, I could still appreciate the lovely delicate pale lilac flowers with a tiny orange spot on the lower lip.

It was quite widespread amongst the stones and had obviously been established there for some time.

Soon the black clouds began to roll in and a few large spots of rain had me heading back to the village. I just made the car before the heavens opened, but it had been a fascinating outing.